March 24, 2022
I volunteer at Seeds of Literacy which is a nonprofit organization that offers education to people who are trying to get a GED or a high school equivalent. Seeds of Literacy is located on the west side of Cleveland and the east side of Cleveland. The location on the east side of Cleveland is on Kinsman road. While the location on the west side of Cleveland is on W. 25th street. I volunteer at this organization every Monday during the times 6 pm-8 pm. From 6 pm-8 pm, I and other volunteers, staff members, and the students who attend Seeds of Literacy are joined together for a zoom meeting. At the beginning of this zoom meeting, one of the staff members marks everyone’s attendance and asks the students what they want to work on for the night. After, if the staff member doesn’t remember what a tutor is comfortable with working with, then they will ask them what they want to do. Furthermore, the staff member will create breakout rooms for a tutor and a student to work one on one learning through an assigned packet that the student is working on. The whole time is moving along with the packet with the student at their own pace. When I am tutoring, I always tell the students that whenever they want to take a break or stop just let me know because I don’t want the students to feel overwhelmed or pressured to complete something in a certain amount of time. I am involved in volunteering at Seeds of Literacy because it is a requirement for my ED 253 class. However, after being there and tutoring the students, I enjoy working with the different students that I encounter. After my service is over, I wouldn’t have any problem continuing my volunteer work at Seeds of Literacy because I feel good after leaving my session with the students. I feel like I am doing a good deed by using my ‘power’ to help others to reach their goals. What I have shared with the students that I tutor about my own lived experience is that I attend John Carroll University and that I volunteer there through my school. Also, I told a student that I was new to tutoring others and that I was nervous at first. I was nervous. After all, I don’t want to tell anyone the wrong answer because I simply don’t know it. Also, I don’t want to say the wrong things to students to make them feel offended or bad about themselves. Additionally, I shared with them that sometimes even now I struggle with certain concepts and topics as well so they shouldn’t feel bad when it comes to not understanding something the first time around because it’s normal. Relating this to freire2013banking, all tutors are taught to have a problem-posing approach rather than a banking concept approach. In other words, when we are tutoring the students we shouldn’t use our power to make the students feel bad or isolated. Therefore, it shouldn’t be the dynamic of ‘the tutor knows everything and the student knows nothing’ or ’the tutor talks and the student listens. This is something that comes with the banking concept approach and us tutors are encouraged to stay far away from this. All students should feel like their voice matters and that they can make decisions about their learning and not vice versa. Every time I tutor students, we work together collaboratively and even learn together. There have been times when I didn’t know the answer to a question and I wasn’t afraid to tell the student that I didn’t. This encouraged both of us to search on google to figure it out together which is a beautiful thing. Some of the students that I have encountered are all black people who are adults. All of the students that I have tutored had children of their own and they had jobs. I am sharing this service experience with them because I want to help them reach the goals that they have envisioned for themselves. I met with a lady named Rose who said she doesn’t even want to get a GED and she’s not there for that purpose. She said that she was there because she wants to teach her children how to read. When I was told this by Rose, I instantly felt amazed and hopeful. I felt amazed because I never even thought about anyone attending the program to help others. I would have assumed that a student would only attend for themselves. However, to attend to give what you have to someone else to better them is very profound. I felt hope from this situation because I see a lot of potential in Rose and I think that she can accomplish anything that she sets her mind to. When I am with students, we normally work on different reading packets because that’s the subject that I feel more comfortable tutoring. In these packets, there are a variety of different activities that are built into one lesson. For example, there are some vocabulary words to match, a passage to read with comprehension questions at the end, true or false questions, etc. I have encountered other students who want to receive a GED to get a better-paying job to take care of their families. I think that everyone who attends Seeds of Literacy has their reasons why they are attending which is very important to recognize. Some of the students have shared with me their lived experiences and backgrounds. One of the students told me that she was never book smart but they were ‘street smart’. She shared with me that she has four children and two of them are in college and the other two are in grade school. She mentioned to me that she could never raise them off book smarts but ‘street smarts’ were something that she always gave to them all the time. Now she decided that she wants to go back to school to get her education now along with her children. According to Why is service important? it says, “The action of service allows a person to think first about the needs of others and then to consider how he or she may be of help” (Bhattacharya, Karina). What I am learning about myself through service learning is that I actually really enjoy helping others and giving to others something I have an advantage over. It feels good to put someone else’s needs above mine for once actually! Something else that I am learning is that I am very privileged. I am privileged because a lot of people don’t have the access to the same resources or opportunities as me. A lot of people were not able to receive a high school education or diploma like me. There are some students that attend Seeds of Literacy who struggle with certain things that may come easy to me. The world around me, others in my school may or may not understand how important it is that we even got accepted to college. The fact that we are even able to afford the expenses of college is something crucial to acknowledge. The students who attend Seeds of Literacy are the ones who help me make these reflections about myself. Without the determination that the students bring when they arrive to learn, I don’t think I would be able to make this confession. I believe that with moving forward with life, I would want to continue volunteering at different organizations to continue to build relationships and grow with others.